Al-Qaida's leader says the Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab has joined the terrorist network.
An Internet monitoring service said Thursday that al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri delivered the news in a video message.
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, al-Zawahiri gave "glad tidings" in his remarks, and announced al-Shabab has joined al-Qaida's jihadist movement against what he called the "Zionist-Crusader campaign."
Al-Shabab has previously said it is aligned with al-Qaida, and in June pledged allegiance to al-Zawahiri, after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden.
The militant group has been battling Somalia's weak transitional government for at least five years in a bid overthrow the U.N.-backed government and impose strict Islamic law.
The group has been increasingly seen as a regional threat in East Africa, prompting the governments of Kenya and Ethiopia to send troops into Somalia.
African Union troops are also battling the militants in the capital, Mogadishu. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed 15 people near a Mogadishu hotel on Wednesday.
The U.S. government has designated al-Shabab as a terrorist group.